We all know that candy and soda aren’t good for our teeth, but the sugars and acids lurking in other, seemingly innocuous (and even healthy) foods can also do a number on your dental hygiene. We got New York City-based cosmetic dentist Marc Lowenberg, DDS, to give us real talk on five culprits you didn’t realize were hurting your choppers, and how to prevent the damage.
Say it ain’t so: While bottles of the cold-pressed stuff may be chock-full of good-for-you nutrients, juices also have such a high sugar content (some have even more than smoothies or soft drinks) that drinking them isn’t far off from bathing your teeth in chocolate, Lowenberg says. This sugar is consumed by the bacteria in our mouths and converted into acid that wears away enamel and can cause cavities.
The solution: Sip juice through a straw to help keep it away from the surfaces of your teeth. And make sure sure to wait at least 45 minutes post-drinking to brush your teeth: Scrubbing them immediately while after acid has softened their enamel can leave them even more vulnerable to damage.
They taste just like gummy candy—and they’re not much better for our mouths. In fact, their sticky, sugar-y makeup adheres to teeth so well that they’re just practically bound to cause cavities.
The solution: Take your vitamins in pill form. While that may not be as fun (or taste nearly as good), neither is a trip to the dentist for a filling.
Backyard barbecues are a summer staple. But most people don’t realize that the thick, sweet sauce marinating your chicken and ribs is also marinating your teeth in sugar (yep, the sauce is full of it), potentially sending you down a road of tooth discoloration and decay if it’s in your mouth long enough.
The solution: Before you know you’ll be eating ‘cue swipe a (very) thin layer of petroleum jelly over your teeth to create a barrier between the sauce and your enamel. Can’t stand the feeling of the jelly on your teeth? Try to brush right after the cookout to remove any residue.
While some fresh fruits are actually considered good for teeth (think water-packed produce like apples and pears), dried fruits never are. This otherwise-nutritious snack is packed with non-cellulose fiber, which traps sugar on and around teeth the way gummy candies (and vitamins) do.
The solution: Get it off! Brush and floss teeth immediately after eating dried fruit to get rid of any stuck-on sugar.
Red wine tends to get a bad rap for staining teeth—and it does!—but white’s no better for your dental health. The acid in white wine eats away at your enamel and leaves teeth vulnerable to stains from other foods or drinks.
The solution: Eat more cheese with your wine! It’s rich in protein, calcium and phosphorus, all of which can help buffer the acids vino leaves in your mouth. A less-caloric approach: Gargle with water after drinking to flush away some of the acidity.
More from Health.com:
- 20 Things That Can Ruin Your Smile
- The Best Foods for Every Vitamin and Mineral
- The Health Must-Eat List: Packaged Fruit
- Inside Mississippi's Last Abortion Clinic—and the Biggest Fight for Abortion Rights in a Generation
- Do Current COVID-19 Tests Still Detect Omicron?
- The First U.S. Offshore Wind Farm Could Be a Lifeline for Struggling New England Cities
- Welcome to TV's Era of Peak Redundancy
- The Key Role a Local Newspaper Played in the Trial Over Ahmaud Arbery's Murder
- TIME's Top 100 Photos of 2021
- 2021: The Year the Grift Kept Giving